The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle is a novel from Philip K. Dick. It has been turned into a stellar television series on Amazon Prime. There are currently two seasons available for viewing (as of April 2018).

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This is a dystopian alternate history set in “America” 1962. It posits that the Axis forces won WWII and that the continent is now divided between the Japanese Pacific State (western side of continent) and the Great Reich (the rest of the continent) with a slim band of neutral zone between the two territories.

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This is such an imaginative show. I have often wondered what would have happened if history had gone the other way. I love that there is a show exploring this (and incredibly thankful it is only on TV)!

The Man in the High Castle is Amazon’s most streamed show. So that must mean lots more people than just me enjoy it 🙂

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The main part of the story follows two characters: a woman from the Pacific States (Juliana) who gets pulled into the Resistance, and Joe, a man from the Reich with questionable allegiances.

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It is startling to see some of the most iconic images from the free world turned into Nazi symbols. The American flag, Times Square …

The Man in the High Castle is a drama. It does have some humourous parts and the violence is manageable, but the material can be heavy at times.

One of my favourite quotes:

You’re about to die horribly but your hair is fine.

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I started watching this series on a whim the other night because I was bored and the weather was bad. Well, ice and freezing rain pretty well had me stuck inside all weekend and I binged on both seasons. This show is completely addictive. It has a tendency towards cliff-hanger endings – both for individual episodes and seasons – so you will constantly find yourself clicking on just one more episode.

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There is an element of mysticism or other-worldliness to this show which greatly surprised me. The storyline takes on more meaning towards the end of the second season and starts to become more clear why they included it, but I still think I would have preferred the show without it.

What strikes me most about The Man in the High Castle is how complicated each character is. They all have multiple levels. I approached the show thinking that the Nazis would be the antagonists and the Resistance would be the protagonists, but it is much more complicated than that. Even the Nazis who do terrible things are softened in the show by their love for the families. And the “freedom fighters” come across much more strongly as terrorists.

Everything is not as it seems. No one is all good or all evil. We are just different shades of grey.

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xx

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Deliverance by AJ Adams – a review

Deliverance is the “third” book in a series, but it is written as a standalone. There is very little plot from the previous two books and the characters from them turn up for about a half a chapter, only. So I’m calling it a side-quel, and if you haven’t already read The Bonus or Songbird, don’t feel you need to to read Deliverance.

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Blurb:

“I’m sending you a girl.”
“What?”
“She needs sorting out. I’m talking Exit Strategy.”
Exit Strategy. That’s what we call deprogramming these days. You might call it brainwashing. It’s one of my skills. Give me a man whose idea of heaven is a suicide vest, and I can turn him into a peace loving hippy wannabe.
“She’s a white widow?”
“No. Human trafficking victim turned sex slave and mule. She’s a fucking mess.”
Christ, poor little bint. Now I knew why Suarez was calling me.

Mac is all set for an undercover job when an old friend lands him with Pepper, a human trafficking victim of a Moroccan-Turkish crime syndicate. Unable to turn her away, Mac now has two missions: to infiltrate a terrorist training camp in the Sahara and to be a Master for Pepper.

Warning: contains graphic violence and sex.
Standalone novel, no cliffhangers

—                     —                      —

Ok, I’m going to be honest from the get-go, this book was a bit of a flop for me. I really liked the first two in the series, but Deliverance was a major departure. To begin with, all those characters we met in the first two novels were not in this one, which takes place in England and Algeria. Chloe and Kyle make very brief appearances, but I was expecting the main characters, Mac and Pepper, to go to Mexico at some point and reconnect with them; especially since Mac and Kyle are close and Chloe and Pepper are close. But they didn’t, and although I can understand what the author was trying to do, I feel like she spent two books developing a community only to completely depart from it.

I hope she writes another novel, and returns to Mexico, but I don’t know who would be the main characters. Generally in romance series, there is an obvious next choice or two, and this time there isn’t.

Another reason that I had trouble with Deliverance is because it repeats a lot of the psychological stuff from The Bonus. Chloe and Pepper were both “Raj’s girls”; they came from the same hellhole, although experiencing different “paths” after they were too old for his pedophile tastes. While Chloe got to escape to a limited degree, as a mule for the organization, Pepper was sold into sexual slavery. She was taken so young by her first owner (seriously wish I could use another word that would work but I can’t) that she cannot remember anything before that. I did like some of the new psychology ideas that the author includes. For example, the development of personality and how some aspects of it are just who we are from birth, but mostly, it is shaped by our experiences, circumstances, and models of behaviour around us. Her discussions of multiple personalities, and how we all have them was very intriguing. If you think about it, it’s true. We all act differently between time spent with co-workers, an employer, casual friends, best friends, different family members … it isn’t an act – at least I hope you don’t feel you have to act – but we are a different self with each different group.

What I didn’t enjoy was the repetitious aspects of trying to break the poor girls out of these learned habits. For example, the personas they adopted to please their “Master” and escape brutality for a bit, like Chloe’s kitten and Pepper’s rodeo-girl. In the bonus it was a good addition to the plot and character development. In Deliverance, it just became too much. I didn’t want to read it, and for that long.

I greatly admire Mac for allowing the poor girl to develop herself within the parameters that he set for her, to protect her. I can see how some might argue that he was abusive himself, but I disagree. It is unusual to find a romance novel that is written almost entirely from the man’s point of view. I don’t really think that that is why I had trouble connecting with this book, I think it was just the lack of major plot points and too much space devoted to character development.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, there wasn’t enough action for me. I wanted some big dramatic moments and more appearances by past characters. I have to admit, I got bored and skimmed the last third of the book because I just lost interested and didn’t want to DNF this book, especially after loving the first two books so much.

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xx

Bourne Movie Number 5

I love the Bourne movies and every couple of months I start googling looking for the newest hints and rumours about the next movie.

Jason and Marie

Jason and Marie

RIP Marie

RIP Marie

After watching the fourth, and seeing how it took place at the same time as the second and third movies and the introduction of next generation Aaron Cross, I anticipated Bourne and Cross meeting and teaming up in the fifth.

Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne

Alas, it does not seem meant to be. That probably means that Rachel Weisz won’t be returning either. I still think that is what we will see in the sixth movie though. I’m stubborn.

Aaron Cross

Aaron Cross

Dr Marta Shearing

Dr Marta Shearing

So what are the newest rumours for the fifth movie, due to be released late summer 2016? Well, the casting is firming up.

I am very excited to see that Julia Stiles is signed on to bring Nicky Parsons back to life. She is pretty much the only person Bourne even remotely trusts since Marie’s assassination and it will be awesome to see them bring her back in. If you don’t remember, she is currently on the run from the CIA so I wonder if Bourne tracks her down or if she is brought back into the plot another way. I have always wondered what their shared history is and hopefully we will finally figure it out in this installment.

Nicky Parsons

Nicky Parsons

There are also lots of rumours that Viggo Mortensen will be in this movie, as one of the Big Bads pitted against Bourne. I suspect he is going to be another CIA desk jockey like Edward Norton played, because he doesn’t have the body of a field agent anymore.

Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen

While I’m on the topic of Mortensen, can we please get a go-ahead on Eastern Promises 2 that doesn’t get cancelled?! Any execs reading my blog??? No? Damn.

Another name, Alicia Vikander, is circling the internet rumour sites as a possible female lead, but there doesn’t seem to be any confirmation.

Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander

I haven’t seen any proof either, that Joan Allen reprising her role of Pamela Landy, but based on her importance in the last three films, I anticipate her returning, at least briefly, to the screen.

Pamela Landy

Pamela Landy

Likewise, I think that CIA Director Ezra Kramer (played by Scott Glenn), Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) and possibly Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton) could be making appearances.

CIA director Ezra Kramer

CIA director Ezra Kramer

Noah Vosen

Noah Vosen

Col. Eric Byer

Col. Eric Byer

Apparently, this movie will only be about Bourne, not a team up with Aaron Cross, but I hope that Jeremy Renner at least appears at the end of the film, or a Marvel style credits scene, to tease out the sixth. Definitely not holding my breath though, that isn’t Bourne style.

xx